Our tropical journey, on board National Geographic Quest, began last night with the crossing of the first set of the Panama Canal Locks, the Gatun Locks on the Caribbean Sea side. This first segment took us directly to Gatun Lake, formed by the damming of the Chagres River in 1923, which also created the first – and one of the three most productive – research stations in the Neotropics, Barro Colorado Island (BCI). With segments that include part of the mainland, BCI is nowadays declared a Natural Monument, and we got the chance to explore this amazing site three ways: a walk on the mainland site known as the Discovery Center, another one on the original island, or via a Zodiac cruise, exploring the island’s edge. Whatever we chose to do, we were rewarded with great sights of various animals like black throated and slaty-tailed trogons, spectacled owls, golden-orbed spiders, howler and white-throated capuchin monkeys and many more. This is just the beginning of our week’s journey through Panama and Costa Rica.